Celebrating Bristlr!

Did you know that the idea that grew into the Bristlr you know and love happened exactly a year ago today? Now you do!

Just a few weeks after the idea was born, Bristlr officially launched. Since then with the help of you beard lovers out there we’ve grown in to much more than just an idea.

Just for fun, here’s a list of the names that were thrown in to the hat before Bristlr became Bristlr:

  • BeardWithFriends
  • BeardTouchingExchange
  • BeardX
  • XBeard
  • StrokeBeardToUnlock
  • ToBeard
  • NiceBeard
  • StrokeMyBeard
  • EveningBeard
  • ToBeardOrNotToBeard.com

Aren’t you glad we went with “Bristlr”?

In less than a year we’ve had countless success stories, in total making half a million matches, our big #BareYourBeard competition which made some beard owners very happy (and popular!), we’ve had international press coverage and recognition, been through Europe’s best pre-seed start-up accelerator, and we even had a party to celebrate 100,000 Bristlr users. We’ve come a long way, and are continuing to grow from strength to strength.

So, with our birthday coming up this month we’ve certainly got a lot to celebrate! That’s right, if we’ve learned one thing this past year, it’s knowing when to party.

But what kind of party would it be without guests? If it weren’t for our beard fans, we wouldn’t be here today. So we want to invite you to our year-and-a-day party to say thanks. Free up your Saturday 24th this month and come on down to Manchester’s SpaceportX, we’re throwing a party!

To get in, just mark yourself as attending on our Facebook event. See you there!

stuff and things
From an idea to an app, competitions to parties and plenty of Instagram loving! We’ve come a long way!

#BareYourBeard Winner

We’ve come a long way, but finally we can announce the winner of our #BareYourBeard competition on what will be someone’s most magical #WorldBeardDay yet!

But before that, let’s take a quick look back to all the entrants that showed off their bristles. With a few honourable mentions to our dedicated overseas fans that unfortunately couldn’t take part and many entries from beardy guys up and down the country, we were truly overwhelmed with the responses!

And now, one month since #BareYourBeard began, we can finally make someone’s day!

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Sophie from Photograph Art Studio 25 and Samuel from the Bristlr team!

Now before we jump right in we have one big thank you to add – We couldn’t have done our photo shoots if not for our friend Photograph Art Studio 25! With her amazing photographic skills, our buddy Sophie captured all of our finalists, and their beards, in their best light. Couldn’t resist a quick selfie opportunity to commemorate the day. We look forward to working with you again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a look at our finalists:

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Joseph brought fierce moustache game, with curls to make any facial hair fanatic jealous. He told us he loved Brisltr because it united him with his current boyfriend. A sweet story, a handsome face and a truly enviable set of face furniture.

(Twitter: @joey_seph Instagram: @joey_seph)

 

 

 

 

 

4

Chris was a last minute entrant that really caught our eye, not just with the beard but those sassy eyebrows. With a punk look, and a finely shaped beard you might not expect to find a heart of gold. However, Chris was approachable, fun and really got in to the photo shoot. His line “#BareYourBeard before your beard bares you,” still keeps us entertained.

(Twitter: @RorschachBeard  Instagram: @RorschachBeard)

 

 

 

 

 

2d

Dougie was one of our few Instagram entrants based in the UK! The length of beautiful beard came all the way from Norwich. With him he brought a friendly demeanor, and shared a touching story of how much the chance at being a beard model meant to him. To top it all off, he’s even provided us with a beard oil recipe!

(Twitter: @Dougie_LRKs  Instagram: @dougie_archer)

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a tough choice we’ve got to make. All of our finalists took the time to show us their stuff, and they all worked the camera, serving fierce beard game in their photo shoots. But there can be only one winner! We’ve kept an eye on Twitter, and we’ve seen you all make some noise for your favourites.

Our choice isn’t made on beard game alone – we evaluated our finalists before, during and after their photo shoots. Nothing too scary, but of course we’re not going to choose our winner based on looks alone! We’re not a superficial bunch.

So. Drum roll please. Without further ado, our winner is…

10d

Dougie! 

With a story of a supporting mother that really wanted him to go on to become a beard model, our competition helped Dougie on that journey as his first modelling gig! Not only that, Dougie came loaded with tips and tricks. We were most impressed with his beard oil recipe, not to mention his own method of temporary beard colouring! This won’t be the last you hear of Dougie either – we’ve talked about getting him back to do guest entries for our blog, so who knows what his next beard tip will be?

Our lucky winner will be receiving – a beard pampering set from Beard Lab, a beard pampering session from a nearby barbers, a selection of prints from the #BareYourBeard photo shoot and a whole lot of publicity from us! We wish you all the success in your modelling pursuits, Dougie!

Now we can’t forget about our runners up, Joe and Chris – your time with us was not wasted! In addition to your own publicity from us, you’ll also receive a digital selection of the prints from your #BareYourBeard photo shoot, and some scented beard oil from Beard Lab! We hope you’ll both keep in touch!

Until then, thank you so much to ALL of our entrants for getting involved, our fans keeping the hype up and our finalists for taking the time out of your schedules to get involved with our photo shoots. We hope you’ve enjoyed the experience as much as we have! And of course, we couldn’t have done it without Sophie from Photograph Art Studio 25!

Thank you! Keep an eye out, our next competition could be just around the corner!

Home Made Beard Oil!

Fresh from his #BareYourBeard photo shoot, Dougie here has passed on a few tips for us, and to all of you! Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to make your own beard oil. Before you ask, it won’t turn your beard blue and purple… That’s just a cool picture.

Before we get in to the beard oil, credit where it’s due! This handy tip comes from Dougie, you can find him and his lovely beard on Instagram @dougie_archer and Twitter @Dougie_LRKs.

Okay, before you get started you’ll need:

  • Pure Coconut Oil, we’d recommend this, but feel free to experiment!
  • A bottle or two of scented essential oils.
  • A big-ish bowl and a little bowl (that can stand boiling water!). Make sure the little bowl floats.
  • A selection of small pots/jars.

With all that in place, you’re ready to start making your own beard oil!

Step 1 – Fill the big bowl with boiling water.

Step 2 – Put some of the solid coconut oil into the smaller bowl and place that bowl inside the boiling water bowl. Watch as the coconut oil melts! Magic.

Step 3 – Put a few drops of your scented essential oil in to melted coconut oil. Want a potent smell? Put more in!

Step 4 – Carefully remove the bowl of oil from the big boiling water bowl and pour the oil in to one of your small pots/jars then wait for it to set.

BOOM! You’ve got yourself some beard oil made with your own two hands with a scent you love! What’s to stop you from making more? NOTHING! Use up the rest of that coconut oil making beard oils with other scents, or maybe mix scents. When you’ve got some coconut oil, a big bowl, a little bowl, a selection of scented essential oils and a few pots/jars to put your beard oils in the possibilities are endless!!

When you want to use it, just scoop some out and rub it in your hands and then spread evenly through your beard. What’s that smell? Success. Beardy Success. And whatever oil you put in there. And we bet it smells amazing.

Go. Share your beard smells and tales of home made oils with the world.

Bristlr Romance – You’re All Welcome!

With all of the excitement going on here at Bristlr, what with our #BareYourBeard competition well underway and our celebration of 100,000 users strong on our beard network, we’re feeling a little warm and fuzzy.

So we want you to join in!

Have you found romance on Bristlr? Have you met the beard of your dreams, found someone to stroke your beard or someone to share your mutual love of face fuzz with you? We want to know! We were touched by Sophie and Kyle’s heartwarming story when they got in touch to tell us how Bristlr helped them find each other. Recently Ben and Lydia got in touch with their own story and we couldn’t be happier for them.

We want to know about it!

Call us soppy, but we love reading your touching stories, and we just can’t get enough of them. So please, let us know if you’ve found love on Bristlr.

And remember, the only requirement for you to be on Bristlr? Be a fan of beards! Regardless of your gender identity, sexuality, age (as long as you’re over 18), whether you have a beard, love a beard, or both, you’re welcome on Bristlr!

A Bristlr Success Story – Ben and Lydia

Ben and LydiaWe got an email this week, and it’s the kind of email we love to get. It’s an email from Ben, who used Bristlr, and has had a lovely time.

He found Bristlr late last year after reading an article about us. “Being a bearded man myself I thought ‘why not?'”

Why not indeed Ben!

With his (and Lydia’s) permission I’ve shared his story below.

I had been single for a little while (if you don’t count my beard as a partner) and was on the look out for someone special. I’m a chef so the long and unsociable work hours make it difficult to meet people. I’d thought about other online dating websites but the specific nature of your website appealed to me (and, hopefully, I’d appeal to others).”

Little did I know that when I created my profile that my life was soon about to change forever, very much for the better.

It wasn’t long until I saw a face which really caught my attention. I remember seeing the picture of this girl and genuinely thinking ‘wow, she’s beautiful. I’ll click on that little heart and see what happens’. I genuinely thought that heart symbol would not turn red. I genuinely thought, just going by looks and her lovely sounding profile, that this girl was out of my league. Also, with me being in Stoke and the fact that she was in Leeds – surely nothing would ever come of this?

This is a little while ago so I may not remember details correctly but I don’t think it was long before that heart symbol was a lovely, passionate shade of red. She liked me back. Then not much longer after that I received a message. It was a simple, succinct message that I’ll never be able to forget – ‘Why are you so far away?’.

It was the kind of opening line that you want to receive on a website such as this. I took that message as her way of saying that she liked what she saw but would the distance between us be a hindrance? So I replied – ‘Ha! Why are YOU so far away?’.

It was the only response I could think of and, looking back on it, could’ve gone either way I suppose! It could have been seen a a bit combative maybe? What did happen was that it started a conversation which I simply loved being a part of. As we spoke more and more, it was clear there was a fantastic connection between the two of us and eventually we exchanged numbers and took the conversation over the phone.

It was in the New Year that we met up in person. This was after texting until stupid o’clock in the morning, calling each other and a Skype session in the month previous. There was always the danger that it wouldn’t work in person. I was really nervous and so was she but it was the best first (and last) date I ever had.

I say last date because I am absolutely sure that I have found ‘the one’. We are now living together in Bradford and because of the move that I made I also now have a dream job as well as the dream girl. It may have only been a brief eight months that we’ve been together but we are both certain that this is it for us.

The reason I’ve decided to get in contact with you is simply to let you know that what you have done, through your website, is brought two people together who otherwise would never have met. We often say that the likelihood of us meeting was so incredibly slim, maybe even impossible. So we believe that you have brought together two soulmates. You can call it fate or destiny (or the power of a great beard) or whatever you like but that is what’s happened.

Everyone at Bristlr wishes you nothing but happiness together!

Competition – #BareYourBeard!

Gather round beard wearers, it’s competition time. We’re hosting a photo shoot for Bristlr users, and the finest looking beard we find will win an all expenses paid beard pampering session.

This is your chance to work the camera, show us those bristles and get some publicity! We want you to Bare Your Beard! No, we don’t want you to shave your beard off, we want you to show your beard off.

To get involved send us a photo of your beardy self along with a few quick words telling us why you love Bristlr and why you want to get involved. You can message us via Facebook, Instagram or Tweet us @BristlrApp.

No beard? No problem! We’re also looking for beard fans to join in at the shoot, regardless of gender. You won’t get to win the beard pampering, but you will get to fondle some fine follicles.

Let’s talk prizes!

The winner of the photo shoot will be given an all expenses paid trip to get that beard trimmed and pampered, along with a home beard care pack containing beard oil, balm and a comb to keep those bristles tame. That’s not all – you’ll also have the chance to pick some of your favourite images from the photo shoot to be printed for you to keep (or given away to your fans).

Runners up, we still love you! As well as joining us in a really fun day, we’ll supply you with a digital selection from your photos.

Sorry overseas fans! Bristlr is based in Manchester, UK so we might struggle to fly you over here for a beard pampering! Unfortunately, we can only accept UK based entrants. For those of you not quite local to Manchester if you’re struggling to get here let us know and we’ll see what can be done.

 

 

A Bristlr Success Story – Sophie and Kyle

This weekend a beard fan messaged the Bristlr Facebook page to thank us for uniting her with the beardy love of her life. And what a wonderful story it was to read, made me feel all warm and bristly inside. So, here I am to share this wonderful success story with you, to brighten up your week ahead.

Meet Sophie and Kyle. Notice Kyle’s EPIC beard, and those happy little faces. That’s exactly what we’re about here at Bristlr – making people happy.

Sophie tells me how her Bristlr journey began, “I was having a drunken night with my girlfriends when the subject of my love of hot bearded men came up. Within just a few minutes they had set up my Bristlr account and were browsing through the hairy hotties!”

Now if that doesn’t sound like a fun night in, I don’t know what does! And it just goes to show, you could be on Bristlr and browsing beards within minutes! Meeting the love of your life couldn’t be simpler and more enjoyable.

Feeling a little shy, Sophie boldly asked her pals to pick out the sexiest man they could find. Enter Kyle, or ‘Beyondtheflames’ as he was known back then.

“He replied straight away and the connection was obvious from the get go,” Sophie reminisces with a dreamy look in her eyes (I assume), “we met the next day and spent the most amazing day together!”

Sophie tells me from that point on they have been inseparable, spending every available minute together worshiping that epic beard. Their favourite activity? Cuddling up together and enjoying beardy snuggles. Aww!

They’re even living together now and will be moving down to Newcastle together soon.

“He is my best friend and my soul mate.”

Now if that doesn’t melt your heart, nothing will. We’re ever so happy you found each other, Sophie and Kyle!

success 2

Do you have your own Bristlr success story? We’d love to hear about it, so get in touch!

Want to Build Bristlr? We’re (Always) Hiring!

If you’d like to work at Bristlr, you’ve just passed the first and most important step; wanting to work at Bristlr.

We’re not a normal company. We’re an early stage startup, and we’re a beard-focussed dating service with mighty ambitions and big plans.

People joining us are expected to be awesome. We’re looking for people who are excited by weird challenges and who can think on their feet. Everyone in a tiny company has a speciality, but we should all be able to at least understand (and sympathise with) what everyone else does. Transparency, honesty, and knowledge sharing is our goal.

The role

So you want to work at Bristlr? Awesome. Hi five! Next, we need to find you a job.

What are you good at, and what are we weak at? We don’t require any previous experience, as long as you’re a good learner. Here’s some notes to help you:

Technical

  • At our heart we’re a technology company.
  • Our stack is all JavaScript, all the way down (PhoneGap, jQuery, NodeJS). If you love JavaScript, we’ll love you. But no, we won’t use the new shiny framework everyone is raving on about. We all know it’ll be replaced in a year.
  • We sit atop Heroku and AWS, and love microservices.
  • “Brutally pragmatic agile” best describes our working practise. Generally we follow the sensible parts of agile-stuff (kanbans, standups, post-it notes, no backlogs, smugness etc.) but run away screaming from over-prescription.
  • TDD and pair programming is wonderful.
  • Done is better than perfect.

User experience

  • Our UI and our UX is core to the experience of using Bristlr. If you know how to build beautiful stuff, come and make us pretty.
  • Currently we use HTML5 for our apps, not native.

Growth

  • If you’re a beast at customer acquisition you’ll have fun here.
  • We prefer experimenting with new channels and methods, rather than relying on the tried & tested (and saturated) old channels.
  • We focus on tangible numbers and impact. For context; if we’re talking signups, then we’re measuring change in the thousands.

The hours

We care a lot more about the impact you have on the company, community, and product, than how many hours you work. We’ve also learned that the more flexible the hours you have, generally the better you are at getting stuff done. You choose your hours. Want a 40 hour week? Sorted. Want to only work on Wednesdays? That’s cool too. Choose what’s going to make you happiest, and feel free to experiment.

There will always be some contact hours (we’re based in Manchester and it’d be great if you were too, but it’s not essential) because we like working in pairs, sharing knowledge, and bouncing ideas around. Also, it’s totally your turn to make the brews.

We’re not going to expect you to clock in, sit down, do some set job, then clock out. We expect you to be making a difference.

The payment

Be realistic and be honest, and keep the number of hours/days you want to work in mind. How much money do you need to do this job and be happy? Don’t undercut yourself, it’s a dick move, and won’t work out in the long term. If you’re not sure, we’re happy to talk openly about this sort of stuff.

Application

Email john@bristlr.com with your CV and a job description for the job you want. And/or, if you’re in Manchester, find John, go for coffee (he’ll buy) and pitch your job, then yourself.

You’re also always welcome to pick our brains on any of this stuff, even if you have no intention of working for us. Knowledge sharing is a good thing.

If you think our methods are too unconventional, please write a job description for an HR manager and send it in, along with your CV.

So You Can’t Advertise to Bisexual or Polyamorous People on Facebook

A few days ago our advertising account with Facebook was “flagged for policy violations.” Meaning  “any adverts that [Bristlr are] running have been turned off.” Fair enough, these things happen and it’s not a big deal.

It was probably because in one ad we quote CNBC calling us the “Tinder for Beards”. Or perhaps it was because Facebook require prior permission before running dating ads, but as they don’t provide any way to contact them, we didn’t seek it. Either way I expect it to be sorted out shortly, and that’s not the point of this blog post.

The point of this blog post is to highlight the policies themselves, and some weirdness I found in them after having a closer read.

They have a section in their policies specifically for dating. And it’s all reasonable stuff; no nudity, don’t con people, don’t advertise to kids, no selling of mail-order brides etc.

But, they also have these policy points when it comes to who your ads can target:

  • The “Sex” targeting parameter must be set to either “Men” or “Women”.
  • The “Interested In” targeting parameter must be set to “Men”, “Women” or “Unspecified”. Combinations of “Men” and “Unspecified” and “Women” and “Unspecified” are also acceptable.

And these points are weird.

Your adverts have to be aimed at a specific sex (even though Facebook don’t actually track sex, and are mixing up the term “sex” with “gender” which… I don’t have time for that, read this). And those pigeon-holed people can’t be interested in dating both men and women; they have to be either straight, gay, or unspecified.

If you’re running, for example, a genderless dating site for people into beards, to use Facebook you have to break your demographic down into their “sex”, and then again into whether they’re straight or gay, or other.

As a better example which isn’t about us; if you’re running a dating site for bisexual, queer or just undecided people, you have to duplicate your ads to reach to two groups of arbitrarily grouped people.

Then we find this lovely line of the policy:

  • The “Relationship” targeting parameter must be set to “Single” or “Unspecified”.

As if open relationships and polyamory don’t exist, even though Facebook themselves provide an option to say you’re in “an open relationship”?

In taking broad strokes to prevent nefarious companies using the Facebook advertising platform, they’ve made it difficult for those not in the mainstream to reach people, and that sucks.

No, it’s not the biggest deal in the whole world, and Facebook are hardly alone in their actions, but it shows we still have a way to go.

To any developers out there remember: code is political.

There’s a global beard shortage. No, actually.

I ran the numbers; there are a lot more people who want to date someone with a beard, than there are people with beards. And this is a global problem.

For every person with a good beard, here’s the ratio of people wanting to stroke them:

Amsterdam 3.64
London 2.36
Manchester 2.24
New York 2.08
Los Angeles 2.04
Sao Paulo 2.02
Paris 1.98
Austin 1.66

Meaning, for every 10 people with beards in Amsterdam, there are 36 wanting a bearded partner.

If ever there was a time to start going a beard, I would say it’s now.

The only place we found there isn’t a shortage is in South Asia.

One of the fun parts to my job at Bristlr is that I get to learn things that are impossible for anyone else to learn. Most of that is also totally useless, but sometimes I find something that’s just super interesting.

When it comes to dating sites, you normally assume it’s going to be filled with a significant majority of guys. In Tinder’s case, for example, it’s basically a two to one ratio of men to women. But an interesting thing happens on Bristlr; because we reduce the number of guys able to use our service, we see an almost 50/50 split of those with beards and those who want to stroke beards (we don’t track gender), with a slight majority wanting a beard.

If you limit the beard-havers to only those with a “good” beard (rated 2/5 or above by the community, i.e. an actual beard), the number of available beards for stroking halves. This is the case in pretty much every major territory and city where Bristlr exists.

I don’t doubt the “peak beard” study from last year which told us that in 2014 beards were seen as the most appealing they’ve been for generations. But if anyone suggests this means we’re going to see a decline in beard popularity any time soon, I have the data to tell them they’re wrong.

If you’d like to see the stats on a city or region I’ve not mentioned above, just leave a comment or drop Bristlr a tweet.